I visited Dorking for the first time and it was not at all what I expected

Standing in Dorking high street wearing a dress and black shoes
-Credit: (Image: Lauren Cole-Lomas)


I’d never visited Dorking before, but was surprised by all the town had to offer, and left wondering why I hadn’t moved there. With views of the Surrey Hill slopes, plenty of independent shops and great pubs, I was surprised by how big the town is.

I stayed overnight in the White Horse Hotel, with my boyfriend and dog. Dorking is roughly a 40-minute drive from our home, it's not far away at all so it’s not somewhere I had considered staying overnight before.

As I drove through the Surrey Hills, the sun was shining, I began feeling relaxed by taking in the verdant scenery. It’s crazy to think this gorgeous part of the world is right on our doorstep.

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While I’d seen photos of Dorking, I couldn’t get over the scenes of the Surrey Hills from the high street, and gorgeous period properties in the town. The hotel itself was perfectly positioned with parking for guests, so we were able to park up and wander around the town without worrying about the car.

I absolutely love shopping, especially thrifted, second-hand and antique goods. I was in the right place, I didn’t realise just how many antique shops there were in the town.

The antique shops were all neatly lined up in a row, each offering something different. You could find upcycled homewares, railway memorabilia and old military uniforms.

I particularly liked Lily and Leitrium, selling anything to oak wardrobes and vintage bureaus to wooden buckets, copper pots and pans and dough boards. The prices were varied, some items were really affordable, and the collection of items was well-curated.

Monica Chalcraft, of Lily and Leitrim, said: “Dorking is a beautiful, friendly market town with a wonderful community spirit, famous antique shops and a good selection of cafes and restaurants. There are always activities going on, and it’s really lively.”

As we strolled around in the sunshine, my boyfriend remarked: “It feels like a seaside town here, like somewhere in Devon has been plonked in the middle of Surrey.” I thought it was a strange comparison, but after giving it some thought, I had to agree.

While quite obviously, the town is missing a large body of water and sandy beach, it has all the other attributes that might make up a seaside town, or a holiday destination. There’s lots to do, and a friendly community spirit with plenty other dog walkers stopping to say hello as we passed them by.

The idyllic town is surrounded by nature, and you can find greenery pretty much any direction you head. We walked around the churchyard, which leads onto The Nower, a beautiful park.

It’s wooded, with a fishing lake, with rolling fields and woodlands. Heading east, you can find the Deepdene Woodland trail, which is a 15-minute stroll from the town centre.

Of course, a little further out from the town, you have Box Hill with the River Mole running past it, and Denbies Vineyard, right around the corner that would make a lovely summer day out.

Those thinking of visiting Dorking, even if it is just a 30-minute drive away, should certainly make a staycation out of it. You don’t need to travel far for a mini holiday or weekend away, and sometimes, the shorter the travel time, the better, especially if you’re travelling with pets.

If you don't drive, you can get to Dorking via train, which is very ideal for those going to and from London. In fact, you can get a train from London to Dorking in just under an hour, and 25 minutes from Guildford.

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